KERNELS OF WISDOM: When is a baby a human being? 0
I've discovered that all those who are
for abortion have already been born.
- AUTHOR UNKNOWN
Dr. Margaret Somerville, the founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, recalls the moment when she was taking part in a public debate and her opponent shoved his finger up his nose, then withdrawing it and raising the index finger of his hand aloft for the audience to see, declared that a human embryo had no more moral status than the mucous on the tip of his finger.
However one views the theatrics of that provocative gesture, whether done to gain audience support in the midst of a heated debate, or to show complete disdain for embryonic life, one thing is certain - the human embryo is once again at the centre of public debate in Canada. This past Thursday Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth introduced a private member's bill in Parliament calling on that institution to examine whether a fetus is in actuality a human being, or not.
In essence, the backbencher's bill is asking the question of our elected officials, "When does a baby become a baby?" Does the genesis of a baby's life begin at conception when male sperm fertilizes a female egg and a human embryo is formed? Or is it a baby when the embryo is transformed into a fetus? Or is it a baby at 10 weeks near the end of the first trimester when it's sucking its thumb? Or latterly, is it a baby at the end of the pregnancy cycle at nine months when it's fully developed and kicking your midrift like a soccer player in the making?
Tragically, as far as our Canadian Criminal Code is concerned, none of the above. For the duration of the nine-month pregnancy cycle, the baby in the womb has no legal status, no personhood, no humanity, no legitimate claim to the rights of the Charter, for Section 223 (1) of our Code declares that "A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not, (a) it has breathed, (b) it has independent circulation, or (c) the navel string is severed."
I don't have a lot of letters after my name, I don't have the status of a genius, my IQ is average, but I'm not dumb enough to miss the complete irrationality of our Criminal Code. How absurd this is! A second before a baby begins its exit from the birth canal it is not a human being - but when the last of its toes emerge and all eight pounds, five ounces of it has "completely proceeded" from its mother's body - it is then a human being! Go figure the logic of that!
Let me further baffle you with the irrationality of our laws. Part (2) of Section 223 of the Code states, "A person commits a homicide when he (she) causes injury to a child before or during its birth as a result of which the child dies after becoming a human being." Kill that newborn child a second after it has emerged from the birth canal and it's infanticide, end its life through abortion on the final day of the nine-month cycle before the birth pains begin and you walk Scot free, for it's your legitimate right. Try and make sense of the lunacy of that!
Because of the absurdity of our Criminal Code we have created a culture in our nation of abortion on demand, and whereas the safest place on earth for the unborn ought to be the womb, it is ironically and tragically the most dangerous place on the planet for the baby in utero.
Since the legalization of abortion in 1969, here in Canada we have snuffed out the lives of more than three million babies.
Take the current population of Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and add Saskatchewan - that equates to around 3.5 million. We've witnessed a silent Holocaust throughout 40 years in this nation, of little ones whose hearts beat at six weeks, whose thumbs went spontaneously to their mouths at 10 weeks, who swam around in the amniotic fluid sac at 15 weeks. Were they alive? Human?
Stephanie Sonegro, a 17-year-old high school dropout found herself with an unwanted pregnancy when, providentially, she went into a Crisis Pregnancy Centre. There she was asked if she would like to have a 4-D sonogram, a multi-dimensional piece of technology that would take her right into the womb and give her a panoramic picture of her baby.
"When I saw my first sonogram of the baby, I burst into tears," she said, "I thought, why would I want to kill something that's living?"
Stephen Woodworth's private member's bill is an attempt by a backbencher to re-introduce a crucial question for our Parliament and our nation, "When does life really begin?" The experts and adjudicators will no doubt debate that question thoroughly, and hopefully this nation which gives assent in the preamble to The Charter Of Human Rights And Freedoms to acknowledging the "supremacy of God," will give thoughtful consideration to what He has to say about human life and its beginning. King David had no doubts about the origin of life. In his writings he penned the words, "For You (God) created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb, I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made...I was made in the secret place...I was woven together."
(The Bible, Psalm 139:13-15)
David had no questions about when life began or who created it. Unequivocally for him, it began at conception. There in that microscopic embryo, gender, humanity and personhood was conceived. Unbelievers and cynics, like Margaret Somerville's adversary in debate may raise their one finger in disdain of human life in the womb, but more than three million babies, voices from eternity, rise up in dissent and condemnation and shout out in chorus, "Oh..........Canada! Oh...oh...oh.....Canada!"
Rev. Eric Strachan is pastor of New Life Community Church in Petawawa.